Best element: You’ve never heard this before. I swear.
Genre: Brachtian Punk Cabaret Duo (Demented piano-punk)
The Dresden Dolls are creepy. The duo consists of a girl singing at her piano with a guy playing drums as back-up. But Norah Jones this isn’t. Ohhhhhh no. Don’t even go there.
Most of these songs are violently dissonant. Not just partially minor, noteven overtly minor- these are violently dissonant. Amanda Parker, the primary songwriter, uses her piano like a weapon, dispersing angry firebombs disguised as songs at whim. Her topics: sex, loneliness, medication, depression, self-mutilation, pain, anger (at her parents, the society- hell, just everyone in general), and oh yeah, how she breaks boys. She’s hardcore.
The Brachtian Punk Cabaret Duo (read up on that self-imposed title on their site- it’s quite exciting) is punchy, blistering, and full- you wouldn’t expect a sound this full from just two instruments. But the piano is loud and complex, and whatever the piano doesn’t pick up in sheer volume, the drums make up for. Parker’s vocals help out too- the best I can figure, she has at least a 2.5 octave range, from the lowest low on the contorted “Half-Jack” to the highest high on the schizophrenic pop piece “Coin-Operated Boy”. Can you say operatic? I can. She tends to fall in the lower half of her range most often, giving these songs a unique vibe, as NO girl in pop dares to sing in a baritone range- no girl except Amanda Parker.
The individual songs range from beautiful ballads (the painfully short “672”) to Ben Folds-ish pop (The aforementioned “Coin-Operated Boy”, “The Jeep Song”) to demented rock (“Girl Anachronism”, “Bad Habit”) to jazzy digressions (the disturbing “Missed Me”) to epic pop pieces (The highlight track “Half-Jack”). “Half-Jack” is nearly 6 minutes of your life completely controlled by the Dresden Dolls.
From the earliest, quietest chords to the ending where Amanda Parker is screaming (yes, the girl is screaming….I’ll bet you’ve never heard anything like it) , this song commands attention. As any good song should, it builds from humble beginnings with whispered vocals, no drums, and graceful piano to a much more full chorus, which is the best chorus on the album. Even though there are no lyrics in the chorus, the “oh-oh-OH!” pattern is virtually tattooed on your brain afterwards. From there it goes on a rollercoaster of dramatic highs and mellow lows until the ending, where Parker doubles her vocals. The singing version is singing “See! Jack! Run!”, and the screaming Parker is repeating each word as loud as she can. It’s strangely cathartic.
If you ever watched “The Pretender”, you’ll remember Andrea Parker- the take-no-bullshit leader of the Centre search squad. Amanda Parker is something like that- she doesn’t care what you think, and she’ll beat you up for no reason. This may be a piano/drums duo, but this is a lot scarier than some of the death metal out there. This is also some of the most creative anti-pop pop I’ve ever heard. You need this- it doubles as a self-defense mechanism, and it’s awesome.
The Independent Clauses is built on the backs of independent bands. Therefore, it should be no surprise that we searched out a band who none of you have ever heard of to interview. We believe in them, and you can see why in this extremely scientific survey:
IC: What does your name mean? I kinda have a couple guesses, only guesses…
BSE: We had a lot of other really retarded names before (aspiring failure, second best, stealing home) but finally decided on this name when we played a friends’ party and it started to pour outside right before we played. We kinda wished it was nice out, but it was fun in the rain, good party. Ever try slip and slide with soap, rain and mud?
IC: How did you guys form?
BSE: Zach needed to do a project for video production class and met two other kids who played guitar and sang. They decided to start a band and write a song for the project. Jimmy was introduced to the band through our old singer and eventually we kicked out the old guitarist and got Jake who Jimmy had been friends with and played with before. After breaking up we reformed and started playing a lot but went through about 4 singers. Finally we found Corey everything went from there.
IC: What’s the worst thing about being a young band?
BSE: Nobody takes you seriously, can’t tour, we still have to have school and college to worry about because you never know what will happen with the band. Basically still having to deal with everything you normally do in high school and college.
IC: What’s the best thing about being in a band?
BSE: The chicks….not really because we don’t have any….chicks…that is…but uh going to shows and being the people that everyone is there to see, recording, meeting other bands you like, having fans, having fun doing what we love, and acting stupid. I mean if you love playin music what could be better than playing in a band, it’s the best feeling ever when you get up there and everyone is there for you and it’s just awesome.
IC: How does BSE write music?
BSE: We usually listen to a bunch of CDs for inspiration and then one of us gets an idea and we work from there. It all usually comes together. It’ll start with just Jake fooling around and possibly getting an idea and once he comes up with a riff of some sort Jimmy will just make a bass line to it and then Zach will start a beat and there you go another successful song writing process haha.
IC: My favorite song of yours is definitely “Something Lost in Space”. Is there a story behind it?
BSE: It was one of the first songs we made when we kinda changed our style from a more poppy sound to what it is now. Back when we first formed our music was just so incredibly simple that a three year old could probably play the songs we made. As we progressed we started to make somewhat better music, but we would have to say that “Something Lost in Space” was the breakthrough song for us cause it was the first song that we really thought was awesome and it blew all of our old stuff right out of the water.
IC: What’s your favorite song to play live?
BSE: Jake: “Bitterness of Life” cause it was the first song that all our friends knew about that was actually good.
Jimmy: “Seagulls” cause yeah it’s got a cool name haha.
IC: What’s the coolest show you’ve played (with who and where)?
BSE: The coolest venue was the TLA battle of the bands with about 30 other bands from the area. We had to play first but it was an awesome experience being up on stage where a lot of famous bands we love play and we got to use all the professional equipment. A close second was at North End Firehall in our home town Pottstown. We played with The Prize Fight, Your Best Regret, Amity and Grenada’s Dream- all the best bands from the area that we go to see and we got to play at a show with them. These two were the coolest venues and bands we were able to play with, but one of the most amazing shows we did was right at our high school’s battle of the bands. We had told so many of our friends about this and we got a huge crowd to come out and support us. We were the last ones to go on, and when we walked out onto the stage (of course we couldn’t see anything, the stage lights were in our eyes haha), there was just this uproar of girls screaming and it seriously felt like we were rock stars. One of the most amazing feelings in the world- we will never forget how it felt.
IC: Is there a band that everyone in Blue Sky Envy can agree on?
BSE: The Prize Fight, Senses Fail, The Early November, The Starting Line. We have to say that these bands give us most of our inspiration in making music.
IC: What are you listening to right now?
BSE: Story of the Year. And might we just add that they are the craziest band ever live it’s a great show go see them!
IC: How do you feel about ’emo’? Love it or hate it?
BSE: Love it of course! Without this recent upbringing of “Emo” nobody would care about the music we are making so of course we love it haha.
IC: If music weren’t around, what do you want to be doing in 20 years?
BSE: Yeah man if music wasn’t around we would all have no lives. It’s basically all we do and listen to in our spare time. Chances are we would all just be ordinary losers that live average ordinary lives and never do anything more than have a normal life, pretty cool eh?
IC: What’s in the immediate future for BSE?
BSE: We have some upcoming shows with The Prize Fight and Your Best Regret, two local bands that we love very much and are awesome. We’re also working on trying out new people to sing since Corey is going to Tennessee for college. Other than that, just trying to get shows, get our name out.
IC: Anything else you want to say?
BSE: Jimmy: Gosh this was so cool.
Jake: Ah, shit.
Zach: Uh- thank you.
Bleach has been around a long time. BUT, this is their first release on Tooth and Nail, and first with the new members. They were always punk, but what are they now?
Answer: Better Punk. It’s much more raw, real, and better sounding. After a short acoustic intro, “Baseline” features, coincidentally, a great bass line. Also, a catchy chorus, and a cool solo are prominent. The lyrics talk about moving on to better things, which is a theme throughout the album. The lead riff of “Celebrate” almost sounds like part of “Baseline”, but it’s abandoned almost immediately. It’s not that interesting of a song. “Broke In the Head” laments an argument between two people where nothing is being said. It is extremely catchy, in chorus and verse, which is uncommon. It’s great. The lead single, “We Are Tomorrow” opens with a great drum riff and hopeful, inspiring lyrics about youth has promise. I’ve personally moshed to this song….and let me tell ya, it’s awesome. Great song. “Fall Out” is an apology to a girlfriend. Definitely the most successful one ever, it’s a complex song that is as fun as it is varied. The mostly unoriginal mid-tempo song “Weak At The Knees” follows. It features a great breakdown though. “Found You Out” is one of the catchiest anthems on the CD, which begs to be sung to, and has a positive message that “I can’t say that it’s figured out, but everything will work out somehow.” The riff is infectious, and this is hands down my favorite song on the album. “Said a Lot” follows the same pattern as the previous song, but doesn’t have as cool a riff. A driving, different style riff creates an odd mood for “Almost Too Late”. I don’t know why it’s different than all the others, but it is. It’s good anyway, and they play an awesome solo. The next song, veritably the most creative, is called “Andy’s Doin Time”. It’s about leaving friends and family while touring. It’s funny, poignant, and features really interesting instrumentation in the verses. “Knocked Out” is the worst of the three songs with ‘out’ in the title on this cd. It’s a midtempo lead in to “Jenn’s Song”, which is a really pretty but short acoustic song. It ends with the same ditty the CD started with, which is very fitting.
Bleach is ready to get a move on. This whole CD is about moving on, moving to better things, and moving to make things right. I say you should move to go get this if you like catchy, fun, good for you punk. 8 out of 10
Outer space has always been an enigma. It seems empty, endless, and full of possibilities. Thus, we’ve had television shows, books, plays, songs, albums, and even whole bands dedicated to outer space (Brave Saint Saturn). Crazy, isn’t it?
You can add The Detholz! to that list of bands obsessed with space. Their debut album, titled “Who are the Detholz?!”, is actually a concept album about Mars. Yes, Mars. But then again, when you consider that the band has two keyboardists among its musicians, it should start to become more clear why their album is about space- they have all the capabilities to make it sound like it dropped right out of hyperspace. Yes, the Detholz! play wacked out space rock that throws in influences of glam, Queen, They Might Be Giants, and Radiohead. And we’re just getting started on the weirdness.
The lead track of this dirty dozen showcases a cascading, twisted little riff tapped out on bells amidst a solid guitar backdrop, electric organ/synth squeals, and odd chords formed by the second guitar. The vocals are unique to the Detholz- a mix between Freddie Mercury, TMBG, Modest Mouse, Radiohead, and a normal singer. Whether barking, yelling, or moaning, the singer exudes enough suave coolness to keep you coming back for more. Put all those characteristics together and you get “Mr. Electricity”, which is a pretty average wacked-out space rock song until they throw in a breakdown remininscent of the one in “Paranoid Android” by Radiohead- a massive wall of guitar out of nowhere. That changes the song to…something else unidentifiable.
“Army of Mars” starts out with tinkly music-box sounds coming out of your speakers-before they segue into a smashing rock chorus. Later on in the song, the feature a fight section: pitting 5 seconds of music-box against 5 seconds of ruthless guitar slamming- multiple times. That’s the type of chaos that The Detholz! propagate. Is it awesome? You bet your bottom dollar it is.
You like bass? Check out the sick intro to “Robot Insurrection Hymn”- quite possibly the coolest bass solo ever. The weird chords that are placed on top of it just enhance the bass line. The chorus of this is great- a bunch of the Detholz clan singing the ‘robot insurrection hymn’- which consists of ‘la, la, la’ for about thirty seconds. The song is about getting rid of those pesky humans, by the way.
We haven’t even mentioned the Queen-reminescent “The Body Electric” or the hopelessly catchy “Last Train to Mars” or the creepy coolness of “Scientific Eye” or the jittery junk-rock vibes of “Invisible Man”. We’ll speak of “Invisible Man”- the intro has so many chord changes in it that you will be blown out of your seat. It’s just truly unpredictable- it takes convention and throws it to the wind. In fact, this entire album does. The hacked up chorus of “Invisible Man” is just brilliant- you may find yourself chanting “In-visi-ble! In-visi-ble! In-visi-ble!” after hearing this song.
If you like creative, fun rock, then you must check out this release. It’s one of those albums that changes your view on things- you’ll start thinking of new music in a whole different vein- “Is this band worthy enough to wipe the Detholz!’s shoes?” If not- well, you probably shouldn’t be listening to that band. But you definitely should be listening to the Detholz!
As some of you know Senses Fail is releasing a new full length album entitled Let It Enfold You on Vagrant Records instead of Drive Thru Records. Prior to the album’s release Senses Fail put the song “Buried a Lie” up on their website for download. I downloaded “Buried a Lie”, listened to it and was surprised at the quality of the song. It was a mature song and I thought that the band may have grown up personally as well as musically.
Then I watched the video for the song and realized that as mature as the music they write may be they don’t take their jobs seriously enough to be a mature band. The video makes a joke out of what appeared to be a good song. This is the way Senses Fail has always been. You listen to their music and think that they are a bunch of kids who are very talented and mature, but once you see them live or watch their video, you realize that their music isn’t who they are.
I’m not saying that a band should have fun with their music but to make a joke out of what can be perceived as a mature song is not the way a band should operate. Look at a band like Brand New. These guys produce quality music and serious videos but still have fun on the road. Senses Fail needs to realize the music industry isn’t a high school party and the people they need to impress aren’t going to take to a music video that looks like it is out of mass media 101.
Quoting a Disney movie in one of the titles of their songs is another piece of proof towards Senses Fail’s immaturity. If you look at the album you’ll notice a song called “Rum is for Drinking, Not for Burning”- if you’ve watched the movie Pirates of the Caribbean you’ll remember Johnny Depp’s character complaining after rum is used to start a fire. Now this is just immature. It’s one thing to quote a movie in a song but to title a song after a joke in a Disney movie isn’t right.
As much as I enjoyed From the Depths of Dreams I can’t see these guys going anywhere unless they learn to take their music a little more seriously.
Best element: Unique rhythms and riffs that demand repeat listens.
Genre: Chaotic post-grunge.
Label: Ascetic Records
Anyone who names a song “Ass Kicker #1” has to be secure in their sound. There’s just no way that you can make the threat of bodily harm against the listener unless you really, truly know you rock.
Riddle of Steel knows it rocks. This entire album is filled with what has become the Ascetic Records sound: dark, chaotic post-grunge epics with garage rock tempos. This isn’t your average post-grunge though. There’s absolutely no cliché three-chord slamming, as ROS prefers to play clashing, dissonant chords with chaotic, virtually freeform riffs. There’s no manufactured, blocky vocals here either- with wild and choppy vocals, the singer for ROS is much more akin to Jack White of The White Stripes than Aaron Lewis of Staind. Add to those elements a blissfully erratic drummer and some completely raw production, and what do you have? A royal mess.
So how is this a good album? It’s all in the bass. When “Ass Kicker #1” takes off, only guitars, drums, and vocals are present; it’s the introduction of bass 50 seconds in that whips this song into a frenzy, as well as transforming it into a cohesive unit. It’s the pummeling, controlling bass sound that connects all the seemingly unconnected pieces of ROS’s sound throughout, although it’s most drastically shown in “Ass Kicker #1”, which is the best song on the album.
But not by far- the “Maps”-eque melancholy of “Kissing in Secret” is mournful and surprising, while the riveting tension of “The Gaping Jaw” is….well….riveting. “Double-fister” could easily be renamed “Ass Kicker #2”, as the lead riff is stellar and the vocals hold together a semblance of melody for once (as opposed to their standard procedure of fractured half-melodies). The amazing drum work on the tempo-changing “Saturn Eats His Children” turns a great song into a true barnburner.
“Python” is a jackpot for any rock-loving, red-blooded human. I can’t think of who to compare ROS to; I have to settle for something much more complimentary. In the school of post-grunge, ROS has no equal- their chaotic take on post-grunge is unique.
Best element: An exponential increase in quality between releases.
Label: careworn records www.carewornrecords.com
Acoustic guitar players get bored easily. Electric guitar players can create a whole lifetime of material without ever seriously indulging in an acoustic- A song here, a ballad there, perhaps, but nothing too serious.
After hardly more than two albums, most acoustic guitar players switch to an electric guitar, or at least put a band behind them. Elliot Smith did it after two full-lengths and an EP, Dashboard Confessional did it after two full-lengths and two EPs, and now Bleeding Heart’s Melody is doing it after one full-length and an EP. The difference between the changes was that Smith’s was neutral (he was still brilliant), Dashboard’s was horrible, and BHM’s is excellent.
The previous album I heard from BHM was an incoherent mess of insecure vocals, meandering song structures, and passable lyrics. Tim Bouchard (otherwise known as Bleeding Heart’s Melody or BHM) has significantly refined his craft here, as the songs have genuine purpose and the vocals retain clarity throughout.
The best example of this new-found security is in the title track “Exhale Life”. The song builds from a humble beginning on an acoustic through piano-augmented verses to a chorus that ranks among the best he’s ever written. As the drums pound over a solid bass sound and an acoustic ditty, an electric guitar sings out, and Bouchard cries out emphatically “There’s no more hurting! No pain anymore!” He had me convinced.
“Shattered” is also a highlight, an emotionally stirring track that starts with a newsclip of a car wreck and proceeds to tell an unusual story. The overall effect is what scores points here, as the song conveys despair without ever being cliché. A simple little synthesizer line drives the elegant “Angel Song”- it’s simple, but it’s so beautiful.
Although there have been immense improvements, BHM is far from perfect. The lyrics are still hit and miss, as some come off whiny and contrived, especially in the musically vapid “Winter’s Breath”. “Sunset Serenade” unfortunately has the same exact vocal hook as the lead track “Exhale Life”, and “Morning Doves” features vocals that hearken too far into BHM’s past (whiny and grating on the ears).
But in the end, there are many more highlights than lowlights, which all serve to show that “Exhale Life” is a wild improvement over anything else BHM has ever done. I hope that BHM enlists a full-time band and keeps churning out music of this high a quality. It’s not often that my opinion of a band is completely changed from one release to another, but Exhale Life has drastically changed my opinion of BHM.
Song: The Abrazo Lift
Band: The Cinderleaf
Bottom line: Excellently done. Get it now.
“The Abrazo Lift” bursts out of the starting gate with gruff yet palatable vocals. This is about the only time that the vocals are most important, because the production on this song is such that the focus is off vocals and on other instruments –especially drums and guitars. Due to this style, the band creates a groove very efficiently- even when it’s just drums and bass, the song feels intense and urgent. The two guitars work together very well in the verses, and especially well during the bridge, where they have an unexpected call-and-response dialogue. That dialogue leads into the climactic last chorus: two great guitar lines, double-tracked vocals, and flailing drums. Red Animal War would be proud to call this song their own.
Song: Three Dollar Keyboard
Band: Good With Guns
Genre: Indie Pop
Album: Winter EP
Label: Suckapunch Records www.suckapunchrecords.com
Bottom line: Strange, yet worth it.
Vocals can do strange things to music. “Three Dollar Keyboard” starts out like a sweet indie pop song, with a nice acoustic line augmented by a chirpy little synth line. Without warning –ok, maybe a little warning- dirty vocals reminiscent of abrasive punk bands Alkaline Trio and Calibretto take the song in a whole new direction. The song bounces along well, but it shines most in the chorus, where the backing harmony offsets the grating vocals to create a somewhat pleasant sound. The music itself doesn’t lose any points- the acoustic-led pop song is instantly endearing- it’s just that the vocals take some getting used to. In the end, I ended up thinking “Well…it was creative…”
Song: On Your Way (To Unhappiness)
Band: Jim Gaven
Genre: Acoustic Emo
Bottom line: If you like mellow emo, check it out.
Acoustic singer/songwriters can exist without being emo- see Joseph Arthur or Guilford- but most just don’t try to break out of the mold. Jim Gaven is a resoundingly ‘emo’ singer/songwriter. Now, that’s not to bash his songwriting- from beginning to end, “On Your Way (To Unhappiness) is a pleasant, pleasing listen. The vocals stand out a bit from the rest of the slow moving song with their roughness, but not so much that the two clash with each other. A great songwriting touch is the addition of female backup vocals, as their small contribution sounds very natural. The three-part vocals at the 3:30 point are excellent- although they stick around for much to short a period. All in all, there’s nothing to bash here- it’s a solid song. It won’t break any land-speed records, but it’s a pretty good mellow emo song.
Song: The Grass Isn’t Getting Greener
Band: Never Forever
Genre: Indie Rock
Bottom line: Pass this time, but file them under the “come back to it next album” tab.
Pure indie rock is tough to find- usually it’s tainted with other genres. Never Forever is no exception- they have a lot of hardcore influences, but never enough to call it hardcore. The guitar style is wrong and the vocals don’t scream hard enough or loud enough. Even though the vocals don’t scream very much, they are very effective. They aren’t the greatest vocals ever sung, but they fit with the hollow, gap-filled sound that the instruments create for this song. The guitars are right, but the drums here are overpowering and incorrect, creating an imbalance that sets the listener into a confused state. The vocals are the only thing that keep this song together, and they barely hang on in the chorus. The best part of the song is definitely the instrumental outro. Overall, there is much promise for this band, but they need to learn to mesh better.
Song: Like an Enemy
Band: Reason One
Bottom line: Metal done like I expect metal to be done: Aggressive and loud.
This type of metal is the kind that I’m happy to listen to in my home, but not live. In my home, I can turn it down till my ears are at a safe distance. This is, in a word, aggressive. The guitars crunch, the bass thumps, and the vocals bark at an impressive volume. The only part about this that ISN’T aggressive is the drums- they just sound tinny and fake in this recording. Otherwise, pretty much everything here is pretty aggressive. Now granted, this isn’t death metal, but it’s still pretty loud and aggressive. The chorus isn’t very impressive- it’s just bland. They do a good job of letting us hear the lyrics, unfortunately- we don’t want to hear them. They’re not that great. At all. It’s a pretty awesome metal song- except for the chorus.
Song: Don’t Mind Waitin’
Band: The Zoo!
Genre: Indie Pop
Bottom line: Fun, catchy, and talented.
Indie Pop is one of my favorite genres; when it’s done well, it’s more fun than a punk band, catchier than any acoustic songwriter, and as talented as any genre out there. The Zoo is a pretty good example of that. The acoustic-based vibe of this song intrigued me- the guitar/bass/drums combo was really tight and clean. The extra guitar on “Don’t Mind Waitin” had a really cool solo- and I usually hate solos. The vocals have an odd timbre, and it gives the song a very unique vibe. It’s not a bad voice at all, as it even more quirkiness and fun to the band- and it makes the chorus catchy as all get-out. Thus, The ZOO! lives up to all the attributes of good indie-pop: fun, catchy, and talented.
Song: Grand Central Goodbye
Band: The Inheritance
Genre: Indie Pop
Album: The Inheritance Demo
Bottom line: One of the most innovative bands I’ve heard in a long time.
“Grand Central Goodbyes” reminds me of a band I once loved. Courage Riley was their name, and they played Indie Pop that stole your heart, wrung it out, and put it back. They broke up, and it made me very sad- but The Inheritance may be the ones to bring back the “Epic Indie Pop” genre. I absolutely adore the section of the song that features distorted guitar over a piano melody, and then wailing vocals on top of that. The innovative sax solo is a little long and repetitive, but it’s very cool to try new stuff. The piano/harp breakdown (I bet that’s the only time that’s ever been said) didn’t really fit the song, but it’s the only flaw- the climactic ending to “Grand Central Goodbye” is just stunning. Everyone who likes mellow music should check out The Inheritance.
Shut the door- turn out the lights- I’ll see you in the morning….
A Short, Biased History of Rock Music.
Welcome to real life. May I take your order? I will end up giving you orders- so don’t worry about that. You won’t end up with much, but you can have this cast-off called rock music. It’s not good for anything. It really is just annoying. Sure, someone’s getting rich off those shaggy-haired British, but it’ll fade. It will fade
It will fade- these rebellious rockers are subverting our children! We will make it fade. Smash the records, smash the records! Drumbeats are what they use to call the devil down in Africa! The devil is in the drumbeat! Smash the records! You may not listen to that! You are grounded
You are grounded young man. Do NOT play that song about “Teen Spirit” or you will have it worse. This anger is not good for a kid your age. You should not be angry. Don’t be angry at me young man, you’ll get it worse. I’m taking away your stereo
Taking away your stereo and replacing it with a dollar sign, you sold it off to buy yourself an Ipod. Your parents eventually got over the warning labels on CDs- they’re all wrong anyway. Ben Folds escapes with more twice as many curses than the Yeah Yeah Yeahs but the YYYs get the label cause they look scary. Stereotyping. There are too many stereotypes
There are too many stereotypes- we must boil them down. If we make only a few genres of music available, everyone will learn to like these genres. Everyone will love rap, punk, and dance-pop. The occasional slip will be okay- let them think there is still creativity. We own creativity. We make creativity. There will be only what we say there is
We say there is a problem with this. The IC will not stand for the same genres over and over again. The IC will not compromise musical integrity for the popularity or the parental. If it sounds good- you know it. Music will never fade
RIYL: Mellow music, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Sigur Ros, Radiohead
Summary: Hypnotic art-rock that lulls you into a blissful stupor.
Sometimes I wish that I could write one-word reviews. As rare as it may be, some bands are so much easier explained by one word than by hundreds. Ember Days is one of those bands- their sound is so unique that the greatest diatribe would be spent explaining why Ember Days is so amazingly hypnotic.
Yes, hypnotic. The sparse, haunting music that this quartet churns out is simply trance-inducing.
Ember Days is made up of a vocalist, a guitarist, a drummer, and a combination bassist/synth-master/pianist. Each part of this band is unique: The vocalist wails in a high, trembling voice that reverberates in your head long after the songs end; the guitarist hardly ever plays a chord, preferring atmospheric sounds and single note melodies; the bassist/keys player drives these compositions with a humble yet strong melodic backdrop; the drummer controls the level of intensity these songs reach.
The best song here is the flowing “To Say Goodbye”. It starts out with a gently pulsing synth line and a delicate piano line, then expands to involve drums, then vocals. The vocals in this particular song are distorted, so they all sound like whispers against the subtle beauty of the track. The song crescendos and decrescendos many times, as the intensity is built up with the increasing of the vocal volume. Nothing is overt in this band- everything grows and falls slowly. The five and a half minutes of this song are pure bliss- soft, melodic, unpretentious music that will put you to sleep. This is a brilliant song, and this is a brilliant album.
Even though these four songs make up 21 minutes of music, it’s unfortunate that there are only four songs here. I could listen to this band a lot longer than twenty-one minutes, and once you hear them, you’ll want to hear more as well.
Stephen Carradini and Lisa Whealy write reviews of instrumental, folk, and singer/songwriter music. We write about those trying to make the next step in their careers and established artists.